The surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates. The environment influences (in a positive or negative way) the life cycle
- #equine science
Social behaviour, dietary requirements, physiology, temperament and genetics all influence the way a confined animal, the horse in our case, behaves in its enclosure.
Equally, the environment we provide for any domestical animal affects his behaviour and, therefore, its welfare. However, as the context and purpose of confinement change, so do our perceptions of what amounts to appropriate space and what that space must contain. Many scientific studies are done in this regard and ethology is therefore a science in constant evolution.
About horses, paddocks of adeguate size reduce the amount of time spent standing passively. When stabling and isolation prevent horses from moving and playing, the motivation to perform these behaviours increases. Clearly this affects the work in hand and under-saddle.
Too much concentrated food and insufficient exercise can lead to hyper-reactivity and even catastrophic muscular desorder, within a matter of 24 hours. So, all good horse-keeper appreciate the need to reduce food intake in anticipation of reduced exercises. Confinement to a stable becomes excessive and must be avoived if horses are maintained on full rations and not exercised at least once per day.
As horses spend most of their time not being ridden and normally confined in the stable, contrary to their natural need to keep moving, their maintenance environment is a prime consideration in horse management. In order to have good horses management you must be a horseman…
First of all they need paddocks for moving freely and eating grass for a few hours a day. Like all social species, horses require companions. The social isolation is likely to lead to frustration and suffering for the animals. Placings horses in groups is one of the most easily acchieved forms of environmental enrichment but this is often not practicable because of the possibilities of fighting and injury at the time of mixing. Small paddocks adjacent where horses can see each other are recommended.
Optimal stable management includes taking the time to establish which horses socialise appropriately as neighbours… Regards aliments, you must consider that concentrate feeds do not represent a natural diet for horses. In nature horses eat grass and when stabled you must never forget thet they need to eat grass and hay above all. Concentrate diet must be under veterinary supervision and in accordance with horse’s nutritional needs.